GUINEA & BLACK MOUNTAIN PONDS: 4/29/16
On a cloudy-to-sunny Friday I spent a long, leisurely spring day visiting ponds and meadows on the quiet south side of Sandwich Dome. It was a day filled with gentle trail walking and fine lowland scenery. I started late morning at the Bennett Street trailhead for the Flat Mountain Pond Trail and by the time I'd climbed less than a mile, the sun had burned through the clouds and ruled the skies for the rest of the day.
At the top of the initial climb I turned left on the Guinea Pond Trail and followed it westward along the grade of the old Beebe River Logging Railroad, which operated from 1917 to 1942. Blue sky, bare hardwoods, gentle grades and good footing made for a most pleasant walk.
Straight as an arrow.
The crossing of the Cold River. This can be a tough one in high water.
Shortly beyond the Cold River the trail comes to a scenic beaver pond with a view of Mount Israel. Lots of bird activity here - a Hooded Merganser, Tree Swallows, Yellow-rumped Warblers and a wave of exuberant Ruby-crowned Kinglets.
A bypass around the pond begins with a tricky crossing on logs and a remnant bog bridge. For a teetering moment I thought I was going to topple in and become a Swamp Thing.
From the other end of the pond, there's a view of Mount Whiteface and South Flat Mountain.
Heading east, the point where the bypass diverges left is not well-marked. But soon enough it's obvious that the main route leads into the pond.
A beautiful hardwood glade just past the western end of the bypass.
In another mile I reached the shore of Guinea Pond via a side path off Guinea Pond Trail. The side path was impassable a few years ago due to flooding, but had only one wet spot, easily negotiated, today.
I worked my way out a short distance for an open view of the pond and sprawling Sandwich Dome. There were Hooded Mergansers here, and an Osprey.
Beyond the spur to the pond, the Guinea Pond Trail crosses a stream flowing off the slopes of Mount Israel.
The railroad grade then makes two crossings of the Beebe River, both of which would have required wading today (and on most days). These crossings can be avoided with an unmarked bypass to the left (going west).
A remnant piece of rail at the start of the bypass.
A peaceful scene along the Beebe.
The sign at the west end of the relo.
View at the east end of the relo.
Then it was back to the Black Mountain Pond Trail, one of my favorite walks in the Whites.
Into the Wilderness.
This crossing of the Beebe River was easy today.
Meandering through wild woods.
Last time I was here this was a meadow; now it's a pond again.
Why it's a pond again.
Beavers at work.
A short bushwhack brought me to this nice spot on the far side of the pond/meadow, where I sat a while and watched a beaver patrolling its domain.
Open hardwoods march down to the shore of the pond.
Back to the trail for a scenic section of ledges and cascades along the dwindling Beebe River.
Nice cascade and pool.
A fine hardwood section with good footing.
While wandering around off-trail, I literally stumbled on this artifact from the Beebe River logging railroad days. I replaced it where it was hidden in the turf.
Another beaver meadow near the trail.
Gnarled tree crowns line this nearby ridgecrest.
Into the spruces.
A sign points the way to a scenic side path.
The craggy drop of Mary Cary Falls.
I scrambled (carefully) up to the top of the falls, gaining views of an upper drop not visible from below.
A view back down the valley to Dinsmore Mountain from a ledge near the top of the falls.
It was late in the afternoon, but I was too close to Black Mountain Pond to not pay a visit. This tent pad on the hillock above the pond is maintained by the Squam Lakes Association.
It was 5:10 pm when I arrived at the picturesque pond, with the ledgy face of Black Mountain looming across the water.
Evening sun illuminated the rocky shore. It was an all-too-brief stay of 20 minutes, as it was 6 miles back to the car from here.
Back down to the Beebe River crossing.
A neat ledge along the Guinea Pond Trail.
Evening at the beaver pond along the Guinea Pond Trail. Didn't have to pull out the headlamp until the car was just a half-mile away.